Flying Blind

On my way to a family gathering in northeastern Ohio, I changed planes at Midway International Airport in South Chicago. Before we took off for Cleveland, I noticed that the majority of window covers were in the down position and this remained so throughout the flight.  Despite my initial assumption, few of the travelers were sleeping while most were focused on their cell phones, computers or magazines; perhaps we had a plane-load of frequent fliers who had seen the regional terrain many times in the past.  As one who prefers a window seat in order to observe Earth's landscapes from above, it amazed me that few on the plane shared my enthusiasm.

From my window on the north side of the plane, I watched as we took off to the east, enjoying a spectacular view of downtown Chicago and the Lake Michigan shore.  As we crossed the lake, fleets of sailboats appeared on its calm blue waters and I caught sight of sand dunes along the lake's eastern coast (Warren Dunes State Park).  We then flew above the glacier-flattened farmlands of southern Michigan before passing south of Detroit; there, ore freighters negotiated the Detroit River and its islands, moving south between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.  Soon thereafter, we crossed the tip of Ontario's Point Pelee and angled southeast above Lake Erie before landing west of Cleveland.

That most of my fellow travelers chose to fly blind, taking no interest in the natural features that unfolded below, was both disappointing and disturbing.  Unfortunately, their lack of interest in the sights beneath our plane likely reflects their general lack of interest in geography and natural landscape and, worse yet, a lack of appreciation for the value of those ecosystems.  Perhaps I exaggerate, but in that darkened cabin, I was a bit depressed.